Monday, January 22, 2018

Ciena adds L-Band to its subsea GeoMesh Extreme

Ciena is boosting the horsepower of GeoMesh Extreme submarine solution by adding support for L-Band spectrum. The platform also gains the ability to operate on TE SubCom’s L-Band wet plant system, nearly doubling the information-carrying capacity of a submarine cable.

Specifically, in addition to current C-Band (~ 1530nm to 1565nm) spectrum, Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme solution now opens up the L-Band (~ 1656nm to 1625nm) in the same optical fiber, doubling the carrying capacity of an undersea cable.

Some highlights:

  • The same technology used by Ciena’s C-Band SLTE, which is deployed worldwide, is ported to the new L-Band SLTE to ensure the highest level of performance. Ciena has already deployed in the L-Band over terrestrial networks for many years and will leverage this extensive knowledge, expertise, and field experience to ensure a seamless migration into the L-Band in submarine networks.
  • TE SubCom announced earlier in 2017 that it has demonstrated a new transmission record of 70.4 Tb/s capacity over 7,600 km. This record transmission is made possible utilizing SubCom’s C+L technology, effectively doubles the available transmission bandwidth of the repeater by an unprecedented factor of two in supported capacity per fiber pair when compared to the same number of fiber pairs in traditional C-Band technology.
  • Submarine cable operators will also benefit from Ciena’s advanced Blue Planet MCP solution that allows for managing the Ciena C/L-Band SLTE and TE SubCom C/L-Band wet plant from a single, unified management platform for a seamless, end-to-end, best-in-breed Open Cable.

“Our partnership with TE SubCom has been critical in ensuring that customers can meet demand growth while delivering the highest level of performance. Leveraging L-Band, over and above the traditional C-Band, changes the economics of submarine network connectivity by providing unprecedented improvements in capacity, reliability, and simplicity,” stated Steve Alexander, Chief Technology Officer, Ciena.

AT&T expands Switched Ethernet Service in Equinix data centers

AT&T will make its Switched Ethernet Service with Network on Demand available to businesses in Equinix International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers under Under an expanded partnership announced by the firms. The service is currently available at Equinix IBX data centers in the following metro areas: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Silicon Valley and more.

AT&T and Equinix said the new AT&T Network on Demand service offered at Equinix enables intelligence across cloud service providers, and brings connectivity and expanded interconnection opportunities closer to where businesses operate.

“A dynamic network can differentiate a company. This is a critical move for many customers as they continue on their digital transformation and look to adopt technologies that require optimal speed and performance,” said Roman Pacewicz, chief product officer, AT&T Business. “Our work with Equinix lets us deliver the physical infrastructure and network connectivity options to support our customers’ evolving business needs.”

A10 debuts hybrid DDoS protection - on-prem + cloud overflow scrubbing

A10 Networks has launched a new hybrid DDoS protection solution for enterprises that combines its  Thunder 1040 TPS appliance with cloud capabilities powered by Verisign.

By integrating the new A10 DDoS Protection Cloud, powered by Verisign, with its Thunder 1040 TPS appliance A10 said it is able to deliver full spectrum enterprise protection to detect and mitigate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

The on-prem Thunder TPS appliance employs machine learning, traffic profiling and intelligent policy escalation in order to provide frontline defenses against all manner of DDoS attacks, including network-based, application layer, slow and low attacks. If a volumetric DDoS attack is detected that exceeds the bandwidth of the organization, the appliance will alert A10 so that traffic can be diverted to the Verisign cloud-based DDoS Protection service for scrubbing before delivery. Enterprises only pay for legitimate traffic and not for the amount of traffic that attacks apply against their network.

“A10 now provides a single advanced solution for on-premise and cloud scrubbing enterprise DDoS defenses, backed by our DDoS SIRT team,” said Raj Jalan, CTO, A10 Networks. “The surgical precision and hybrid, full spectrum approach of the A10 DDoS solution ensures enterprises are resilient to advanced DDoS attacks in the most effective and economical manner possible.”

“DDoS attacks are unpredictable and increasing in complexity. Eighty-eight percent of DDoS attacks mitigated by Verisign in Q3 2017 employed multiple attack types,” said Michael Kaczmarek, VP of Product and Marketing, Verisign Security Services. “Many enterprises need smart, scalable hybrid DDoS defenses to efficiently tailor mitigation strategies to combat the changes in the DDoS landscape like those offered by the A10 DDoS Protection Cloud and A10 Thunder TPS.”

China Mobile tests core scalability for NB-IoT using EXFO

China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC), working with EXFO's test solution, completed a performance verification test of core networking equipment from 4 major vendors. The tests examined whether these NFV-based networks can individually support 5 million narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) devices.

EXFO said its test solution was preferred for three main reasons:

  • Performance - capacity to simulate millions of IoT devices on one single server, keeping network configuration simple
  • Flexibility - ability to adapt to rapidly evolving specifications and specific requirements
  • Extensive test coverage: covers the network from end to end, including focus on individual nodes

"Communication service providers have to ensure that new IoT equipment introduced into the network will be compatible with existing network nodes before they go live," Claudio Mazzuca, EXFO's Vice-President, Systems and Analytics. "Through our local presence, we were able to deliver quick turnaround times to adapt to CMCC's specific requirements. Our test solutions come with unmatched flexibility giving them an edge in today's rapidly transforming telecom landscape."

Silicon wars heat up in 2018 – Intel at CES

With the start of the new year comes the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and with it a flurry of technology announcements from the major silicon companies. The publicity focus is not just on shiny new electronics but on a range of new technologies driving cloud services, fog computing, edge data centres and the future of network connectivity. A big battle is clearly shaping up for brains of autonomous vehicles. The same can be said for the connected home, smart cities, healthcare, entertainment, gaming, etc.

Intel takes the stage

Before launching into his annual CES keynote on the near-term future of processing, Intel’s Brian Krzanich first needed to publicly respond to the “Spectre” and “Meltdown” security threats that have dominated tech news. He said Intel has not yet seen a real case where these vulnerabilities have led to a cyber exploit. Nevertheless, Intel will issue software patches for 90% of its products in the coming days with the remainder expecting fixes too. Intel is going to some lengths to assure customers that these software patches will have minimal performance impacts. Already, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Google are stating that their public cloud computing resources are secure and experiencing only minimal performance variations. For assurance, Intel cites the following:

Apple“Our testing with public benchmarks has shown that the changes in the December 2017 updates resulted in no measurable reduction in the performance of macOS and iOS as measured by the GeekBench 4 benchmark, or in common Web browsing benchmarks such as Speedometer, JetStream, and ARES-6.”
Microsoft“The majority of Azure customers should not see a noticeable performance impact with this update. We’ve worked to optimize the CPU and disk I/O path and are not seeing noticeable performance impact after the fix has been applied.”
Amazon“We have not observed meaningful performance impact for the overwhelming majority of EC2 workloads.”
Google“On most of our workloads, including our cloud infrastructure, we see negligible impact on performance.”
This may not be the end of this trouble for Intel nor for its CEO, who is facing questions about his reported sale of stock options during the period before the vulnerabilities were published.

The data tsunami will benefit society

Krzanich used his CES keynote to highlight opportunities brought about by the explosion of data. It is the tsunami of data that is driving the next great wave of the technology revolution and with it, profound social change.  

“Data is going to introduce social and economic changes that we see perhaps once or twice in a century,” Krzanich said. “We not only find data everywhere today, but it will be the creative force behind the innovations of the future. Data is going to redefine how we experience life – in our work, in our homes, how we travel, and how we enjoy sports and entertainment.”

For technologists, the main questions are how much data, where does the processing occur, and what are the storage and networking requirements? For example, Intel says:

  • Average Internet users are consuming 1.5 GB per day
  • Autonomous vehicles will generate about 4 TB per day
  • A connected airplane will generate 40 TB per day
  • A smart factory could general 1 petabyte of data, the equivalent of data production equivalent of 700,000 people playing with smartphones.

Conventionally, data has been stored for later processing. Today’s applications increasing presume that it will be processed and analysed in real time.  Virtual reality and augmented reality consumption devices will need to perform real-time stitching between multiple video streams. Only some of the terabytes of data need to be carried over the network but the latency requirements will be tight.

Immersive Media

For CES, Intel is putting a heavy emphasis on “immersive media.” For example, one experiment being conducted with the National Football League places dozens of connected, 5K video cameras around an athletic field. The image streams are stitched together in real time. The system calculates volumetric pixels – called voxels – which can be viewed from any angle, creating an immersive experience for the viewer.  The first set-up in this experiment is producing 3 TB of data per minute.
Krzanich also announced the launch of Intel Studios, which has just completed the construction of a state-of-the-art sound/video stage in Los Angeles that is capable of stitching video streams from 100 cameras. The 10,000-square-foot dome is described as “the world’s largest volumetric video stage.” The post-production room is equipped with Intel-powered graphics workstations and servers with the ability to crunch over 1TB of data every 10 seconds. Paramount Pictures is the first major Hollywood studio to sign up as a partner.

Neuromorphic computing

Intel Labs has developed a prototype chip called “Loihi” that is based on the principles of neuromorphic computing, meaning that it aims to mimic the processing of the human brain.  Loihi combines training and inference on a single chip. The researchers say it mimics the natural learning process by forming new connections between neurons, or reprogramming the transistor connectivity on chip. The Loihi chip is currently capable of rudimentary image recognition in the lab. Intel plans to share it with research institutes later this year.

Intel is also announcing the design, fabrication and delivery of “Tangle Lake,” a 49-qubit superconducting quantum test chip. This is quite a gain over the 17-qubit design that Intel announced a few months back, but clearly still a prototype for ongoing research. Krzanich said Intel’s goal is to produce a complete quantum computing system – from architecture to algorithms to control electronics. The company reckons that we are still five to seven years away from addressing the manufacturing challenges that would have to be overcome for a commercial product. Getting to a commercial system will probably require chips with one million or more qubits on board. Delph University in the Netherlands is one of Intel’s research partners.

Moving fast with autonomous vehicles

The highlight of the 2018 CES show for Intel is its progress with autonomous vehicles. It was just about one year ago that Intel agreed to acquire Mobileye, a developer of machine vision systems for automated driving, for about $15 billion.

Mobileye, which is based in Israel and is now a wholly-owned division of Intel, holds the leading market position in computer vision for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Its portfolio includes surround vision, sensor fusion, mapping, and driving policy products. Mobileye's EyeQ chips are already installed in about 20 million vehicles.

This installed base of Mobileye vehicles provides a strategic crowdsourcing mechanism for Intel and its auto manufacturing partners to develop the highly accurate maps needed to gain centimetre precision in the guidance of autonomous vehicles. Up to 2 million vehicles from BMW, Nissan and Volkswagen are now expected to use the Mobileye Road Experience Management (REM) technology to crowdsource this type of data.

Mobileye’s upcoming EyeQ4 and EyeQ5 chips for Level 3/4 autonomous driving programs go into production in 2018 and 2020 respectively. Mobileye currently has OEM relationships with GM, VW, Honda, BMW, PSA, Audi, Kia, Nissan, Volvo, Ford, Renault, Chrysler, SAIC and Hyundai.  Intel’s latest automated driving platform combines automotive-grade Intel Atom processors with Mobileye EyeQ5 chips to deliver a platform for L3 (Level 3) to L5 (Level 5) autonomous driving.

Flying taxis too

Intel is working with Volocopter, a start-up based in Germany that is developing autonomous, fully-electric, vertical take-off flying machines. The company plans to offer air taxi services in major cities.  The prototype uses the same technology that Intel is supplying to drone manufacturers.

Splitting ways with Micro on future 3D NAND

While most of Intel’s CES news is about building partnerships, there was one item moving in the opposite direction. Micron and Intel agreed to work independently on future generations of 3D NAND. The companies had previously been engaged in a partnership for NAND memory and are currently ramping products based on their second-generation of 3D NAND (64 layer) technology. The new business arrangement will go into effect after the companies complete development of their third-generation of 3D NAND technology, which will be delivered toward the end of this year and extending into early 2019.  Neither expects change in the cadence of their respective 3D NAND technology development of future nodes. Intel and Micron will also continue to jointly develop and manufacture 3D XPoint at their joint venture fab in Lehi, Utah, which is now entirely focused on 3D XPoint memory production.

Will Huawei's rapid growth continue in 2018?

by James E. Carroll

For the past decade, Huawei has been a shining star for the networking and telecoms field. 2015 and 2016 were especially good years as the company’s overall revenue grew 37% and 32%, respectively.
In a New Year’s message to staff, Huawei’s rotating CEO Ken Hu noted that the tepid growth rate slowed considerably, to 15% in 2017.  This is the slowest pace of expansion since 2013. Huawei's final revenue figure for 2017 should be in the range of 600 billion yuan (US$91 billion). Hu cited fluctuations in telco investment cycles, perhaps alluding the strange position that the Chinese telecom sector finds itself now that 4G infrastructure rollouts are mostly completed but 5G has yet to arrive.

Still, Huawei remains strong compared to any of its nearest competitors. For its most recently completed fiscal quarter, Cisco reported a growth rate of -2%.  Nokia reported a 7% year-on-year decrease (4% decrease on a constant currency basis).  Ericsson’s Q3 sales were also down 6% year-over-year (down 3% on a constant currency basis). Even when looking ahead to 2020, Ericsson is forecasting that its sales of radio access network equipment will decline or at best remain flat. At its Ericsson Capital Markets Day in Stockholm in November, the company even gloomily predicted that sales for IT and cloud solutions would likely decline.  Even worse, in late December, Ericsson signed a credit agreement with the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) for US$220 million and another one with AB Svensk Exportkredit (SEK) for US$150 million, to shore up its balance sheet and help fund its 5G R&D activities.

These discouraging pictures come after several years of weak Service Provider sales for the industry as a whole. Ericsson's revenue crashed 10% YoY in 2016. For instance, IBM's sales in 2016 were down 2%, Microsoft's were down 9%, and Cisco (despite spending several billion dollars on expensive acquisitions every year) struggles to even maintain its current level of sales, although to be fair, profitability has been improving.

Despite the slide in its growth rate, Huawei’s CEO said the overall business remains strong. Unlike any of its network equipment rivals, Huawei also competes in the consumer segment, where the smartphone is king. In 2017, Huawei sold a record 153 million smartphones, giving it approximately 10% of the global market. The flagship Huawei Mate 10, which boasts an in-house 8-core CPU and 12-core GPU based on 10nm technology, is critically regarded as a close competitor to the flagship phones of Apple and Samsung. It is also priced at a significant discount to those brands. It now looks quite possible for Huawei to establish itself as a premier global brand. Remember when Nokia enjoyed such success? Ericsson too was a mobile phone contender in the days before the iPhone. Cisco even made a half-hearted effort to enter the consumer space. Now, all of these companies can only sit back and watch as Huawei uses its growing consumer success to build up its brand.
In the enterprise sector, Huawei is focused on opportunities in cloud, campus networks, data centres, and IoT. Hu said 197 companies in the Fortune Global 500 have selected Huawei as their digital transformation partner.

Hu’s New Year’s greeting did not provide a geographic breakdown of the company’s sales (perhaps we will get that information in a later report), but over the past few years, these have been fairly evenly split between domestic and international sales. In its home market, we can confidently say that Huawei’s position is strong and getting stronger. While the western vendors continue to compete in China via their joint venture companies, the nationalist tendency to “buy local instead of imports” seems to be on the rise.

One example is China Telecom recently completed 100G ROADM backbone network on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang,  Hubei, Anhui, Jiangxi, and the municipality of Shanghai.  In the past, this type of contract might have split between several vendors, with perhaps a small share of the pie going to one of the foreign joint venture companies. That was not the outcome here. Huawei was the exclusive network solutions provider for the China Telecom optical backbone project. Remarkably, the completed the upgrade in only five months, which is perhaps indicates a good contracting decision by China Telecom. Since the project is described as an optical mesh backbone that is already carrying over three hundred 100G services from the outset, we can presume that the network will grow by leaps and bounds over the coming decade – the Yangtze River basin is after all one of the most densely populated regions of the planet.  Good luck to any other vendors getting in

In the international market, we only have anecdotal evidence for how Huawei is actually performing. Because Huawei is a privately-held company, only a limited amount of financial data is disclosed to the market. The biggest story in networking is, of course, the rapid rise of the public cloud, especially AWS, Microsoft, Google, Alibaba and handful of others. To our knowledge, Huawei is not a significant supplier to any of the hyperscalers.

Although Huawei has made remarkable inroads with top telecom operators in western Europe, its revenue growth rate is constrained by the flat to declining CAPEX budgets. Until investments in network infrastructure rise again, it will be difficult for any vendor to grow faster than 10 per cent annually.

There are opportunities for Huawei in developing markets, especially those tied into China’s Belt and Road initiative.  For example, Huawei Marine is the lead vendor for a new Pakistan East Africa Cable Express (PEACE) submarine cable that will connect South Asia with East Africa. This project will  offer the shortest fibre route from western China to southern Europe, when combined with terrestrial fibre between Pakistan and China. The project is funded by China Construction Bank.

One problem that has not been solved is the impasse with the U.S. government. Over five years have now passed since the U.S. House of Representatives' Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued its report recommending that Huawei and ZTE be blocked as suppliers of critical infrastructure due to security concerns. The United States remains the largest single market. No resolution to this standoff appears to be in sight. More recently, the Australian intelligence service has acted to block Huawei Marine from its role in funding and constructing a high-capacity subsea cable that is to link Sydney to the Solomon Islands. Apparently, security concerns were raised concerning China’s growing presence in the region. Nevertheless, Huawei smartphones are growing in popularity with consumers worldwide, including in the U.S. and Australia.

Turkcell joins 3GPP

Turkcell announced its participation in 3GPP as a member. Turkcell said it will assume an active role aiming at remarkable contributions in the development phases of 5G, viewed as the technology of the future. Turkcell’s many years of experience will be instrumental in 5G standardization activities along with other global players.

"As Turkey’s Turkcell we are proud to be a pioneer in several fields concerning 5G. We reached record speeds in one of the world’s first 5G tests, which took place under the roof of Turkcell. To lay the groundwork for Turkey to be a major player in the field, we are engaged in scientific cooperation with universities and are continuing to support the leading efforts of BTK (Information and Communication Technologies Authority), all aimed at making Turkey one of the first countries to implement 5G," stated Turkcell CEO Kaan Terzio─člu.

Telia Carrier delivers Internet for Costa Rica's ICE

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), which is Costa Rica’s state-owned telecommunications provider, has selected  Telia Carrier’s global fiber backbone to provide dedicated Internet access to its customers in Central America.

ICE ranks as the largest over-the-top (OTT) operator in Central America and the number one retail ISP in Central America and the Caribbean (Dyn IP Transit Intelligence Jan 2018).

Telia Carrier's tier-1 Internet backbone will enable ICE to launch the first 100G IP Transit services for their operation in Central America.

Integral Memory debuts 512GB microSDXC card

Integral Memory plc is introducing a 512GB microSDXC V10 UHS-I U1 memory card.

The new card meets the Video Speed Class 10 (V10) standard, ensuring fast data transfer of Full HD video on devices including digital cameras, action cams, drones and camcorders.

A10 appoints EVP or Worldwide Sales

A10 Networks announced the appointment of Chris as executive vice president, worldwide sales.

Before joining A10 Networks, White was vice president of sales at Proofpoint, a leading security-as-a-service provider, where he led the Strategic Accounts and Archive Sales Teams in the US market. Prior to Proofpoint, White held senior leadership positions at Hitachi Data Systems, NetApp, Symantec and ADP.

See also